I had a post I really wanted to get out before I leave tomorrow until realizing that it may generate some discussion and while I’ll have internet access, I should be near my books, depending on what questions or comments come up. It’s mostly written so I should get it out next weekend.
Since I have nothing else to offer, here are a few recent posts by other bloggers which have caught my attention.
Steve Muhlberger put up a post a week or so ago which I found very interesting. In the US at least, and this may be true of other countries in what we’d call Western Civilization, we have a tendency to think of an entire country as being of basically the same culture. I’d argue that while this is more true in the US than many places, it’s not absolute even here. His post is a nice reminder that multiculturalism is the rule, not the exception even today, and was so to an even greater extent in the past. When I started reading about the Crusades one of the things that struck me was how many different Arab groups there were and how this had such an impact on their initial inability to resist the crusaders and crusade states. They were very willing to enter an alliance with Christians if it gained them an advantage against a rival Arab group. The Crusades have often been portrayed as a simple “Christian vs Islam” struggle. It was much more complex than that.
This is a bit of an old song here but once again I’m impressed with the latest post by Jonathan Jarrett detailing his travels in Catalonia. This one, in addition to having a lot of excellent historical information, includes some great pictures.
Magistra et Mater has two very good posts detailing IHR Early Medieval Seminars. Between her and Jonathan I feel like we got the whole set of sessions. I’m particularly interested in the earlier of the two, discussing continuity with some comments on the use of evidence, two topics I’m really interested in. I started to reply to that post three (I think) times and each time I got to over a hundred words with more to say – too long for a post comment, even for an over-writer like me. Her second post, on the, sort of, survival of free speech into the Middle Ages is also interesting and has its own implications for continuity.
Michelle Ziegler has two good blogs, Heavenfield and Contagions. She recently put up a post discussing her thoughts on Cuthbert’s impact on Aldfrith’s succession to the English throne in the late 7th century. Contagions is good if you’re interested in a more scientific discussion of diseases and their evolution, spread, and impacts. She also periodically puts up summaries of what other people are blogging about – and I’m not saying this just because I received a mention in her latest one! It’s a good way to find out what people are talking about.
My final reading suggestion isn’t exactly about history but about how to do academic work. Another Damned Medievalist and Notorious PhD have started an online writing group. I’ve been following this and find it very interesting. I debated signing up but my current major writing project is much more along the lines of “unwriting.” I have been asked to take elements of a two-hour presentation I’ve given probably two dozen times over the past 2 years and break it down into several 1,000-2,000 word publications, along the lines of fact sheets. I decided not to curse the group with this particular task.
However I’ve been following the discussion and I think, even by lurking, I’m going to learn a lot. The folks in this group are so much more disciplined than I. It’s also interesting to see, once again, how very different humanities presentations are from those in my field. I received an e-mail yesterday asking me to give an hour-long presentation on June 30. Now it’s on a topic I’m very familiar with but I’ve never presented on it before. If I had to present it from an academic paper, I don’t think I could get that put together in less than three weeks, however well I know the topic. But I’m going to create an outline, flesh it out, develop a powerpoint (I don’t read from ppt’s – I use them like I used index cards in the pre-digital age) and am very comfortable with being able to do that, though this has changed what I’ll be doing on my flight tomorrow. Anyway, if you are involved with writing, I encourage you to keep an eye on this discussion. Very good stuff.